First and foremost, you may be wondering if you need to to have already finished Final Fantasy XIV to be able to experience the new expansion. Thankfully that is not the case, as you can head straight to Shadowbringers from installation.
This is great news, especially since the main plot has been summarised accurately and plays well. Now that this question is settled, be aware that FFXIV's lore is extremely deep and surprisingly rich, so it's a good idea to start your adventure with A Realm Reborn.
This will allow you to appreciate all that this game, and this expansion, has to offer.
A Single-Player MMO?
In Shadowbringers, the developers have decided to create an MMORPG that you can play entirely by yourself. I'll explain this later, but by following the main storyline, you'll be able to easily level your character without necessarily being reliant on other players, besides during certain moments in the plot.
Of course, you may opt to team up, especially for dungeon content. But other than that, you can progress through the story without having to be in a group — though it is entirely possible to spend your time working through the story with your friends. This is a good compromise that allows both solo players and groups of friends to get the most out of the game.
This review will only touch briefly on the base game experience, given that we'd rather address the new gameplay features brought about by the new expansion, Shadowbringers.
Let's begin with the world, which provides a breath of fresh air to the rest of the game. In FFXIV, your heroes are involved in a traditional conflict that pits the Garlean Empire and the Eorzean alliance against one another.
In this expansion, you are brought to a new region by the Crystal Exarch, in which the local inhabitants suffer under an unending sun. Your task is simple: defeat any angelic creatures in your path and bring night back to the world.
What follows is a excellently told and strongly directed story that plunges the player into a well established world. The expansion adds six new, thoughtfully crafted, zones that are shockingly beautiful.
It also features a cast of characters that actually appear invested in the story, which makes it, by far, the most satisfying story in the history of FFXIV.
As you progress through the plot, you'll come to appreciate it for what it is: a well-crafted story that piques your curiosity through well-placed reveals that constantly offer new surprises to the player.
Two new races also make their appearance — The Viera and the Hrothgar — and can be seen below.
A Wealth of Content
Shadowbringers adds a lot to FFXIV, including a fascinating story, a little over ten additional dungeons, and a set of difficult raids.
But most notably, the expansion ushers in a completely new system that lets players team up with NPCs in dungeons, allowing them to have a seamless solo experience.
These bots do their jobs well, yet lack the complexity to tackle difficult dungeons or high-level content. Optional quests now tailor themselves to your level to provide you with a fast and enjoyable levelling experience.
It should also be noted that the majority of jobs in the game have been combined in different ways to make everything easier to play overall, without eliminating player choice. This is great news, as it serves as a refresher for all classes.
Shadowbringers introduces a lot of new content for high level players. From its engrossing crafting and housing system, to new raid difficulties, and even it's emblematic job system, players will get as much out of the game as they put in.
Don't forget — in Final Fantasy XIV you can change your job at any time. This important detail will allow players to experience a new playstyle and mix things up at any time.
With just under 20 total jobs available, FFXIV Shadowbringers introduces two new jobs: the Dancer and the famous Gunbreaker.
The Dancer is a Ranged DPS/Support that uses a Step Gauge and can receive powerful buffs semi-randomly. Though it is far from my favourite, it offers a unique gameplay experience that forces you to constantly adapt to the rhythm of battle, freeing you up from steadfast skill rotations that limit other jobs.
The new tank class, the Gunbreaker, is a revelation. It allows you to contribute to the DPS via a cartridge system, all the while helping others and protecting them from damage. This is a real boon for the class, making it useful and more flexible than other tanking options.
If you enjoyed Final Fantasy XIV before Shadowbringers, this third expansion will be the icing on the cake, given its excellent plot and fantastic, well thought-out new content.
For as much as the general formula remains the same — and to some people this will be the case — the game's polish is evident.
To summarise, there's never been a better time to get into FF XIV. It's not often that an ageing MMO can still continue to shine, well into 2019.